Standing close to the only V140 Diesel Locomotive

Standing close to the only V140 Diesel Locomotive

By Roger Heid

 

If I remember correctly, this was in 1950. My step dad, a US Army officer, normally stationed in the Stuttgart area, had some military business somewhere in the Frankfurt area. He was often gone for days. This time, he decided to take me along as he would be able to do his business in one day. Oh goodie, a train ride! I could hardly wait.

In Stuttgart we went aboard a very comfortable 1st Class compartment. After a while, things got boring. I can’t remember how often I asked my dad if we were there yet, but we finally got there. A cab took us to some Army base.

There I wound up sitting in some office room. A girl clerk hammered away on her typewriter while I was reading a comic book over and over. This went on for hours. Why did I allow my dad to coax me into taking this trip, I started to wonder.

Finally, shortly before noon, my dad appeared, and we went to the Snack Bar for lunch. He told me he was done for the day. Whatever he was doing took less time than he had expected. I promptly suggested we’d go to the rail yard to watch some train activity. Much to my liking he agreed. Some GI friend of his gave us a ride to the rail yard.

A fairly large red locomotive caught our attention. It was just being coupled to a freight train. I had never seen one like that before. It was some kind of diesel locomotive. At the time, I did not know so much about trains and locomotives. Even though it was a diesel, it still had coupling rods on those three large drive wheels. This confused me a bit, but I was stunned. My dad did not know that much about that stuff either. On the name plate it said it was a V140. Actually, it read V 140 001.

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Much later, I learned that there was only one of them made. This was back in 1935. At first, it was called a V16. After some trials and errors, getting the bugs out, the DR adopted it 1936 and renamed it V140. It was able to do 63 mph, powered by a 1341 hp diesel engine. The significance of this loco is that it was the first ever locomotive employing the diesel hydraulic drive system.

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It survived WWII, in spite of some damage to it. After the war, the DB used it for both, freight and passenger service. It was stabled in the Frankfurt-Griesheim area. Being the only one of its kind, there were no spare parts available. Therefore, it was mustered out in 1953. It was transferred to a Tech School in Karlsruhe, for study purposes. Later on, it was taken to a railroad museum in Bavaria where it still sits, dreaming about more active days.

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A few years ago, Maerklin had one in their catalogue, and I immediately bought it. It has an mfx decoder with sound functions. It is a solid performer. Occasionally, I run it, remembering that particular day in my childhood. What a coincidence it was to see the only loco of its kind in existence. I am proud to have it. Unfortunately, Maerklin does not offer it, these days. Maybe they and Trix will bring it back. I am unaware of any other maker offering this unique model.

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